Members of the Taliban delegation arrive to the signing of a US-Taliban agreement in the Qatari capital Doha on February 29, 2020.
Members of the Taliban delegation arrive to the signing of a US-Taliban agreement in the Qatari capital Doha on February 29, 2020.
AFP

The Doha Agreement, more formally, "Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognised by the US as a state and is known as the Taliban and the United States of America, 2020" was signed on the February 29 in Doha, Qatar. The deal was considered a historic step towards establishing peace in Afghanistan.

The terms of the agreement included the withdrawal of American troops and private military personnel and Taliban's determination at preventing the use of Afghan soil for harbouring Al-Qaeda and any individual or group that is a threat to the USA. None of the aforementioned clauses talk about “peace” for “Afghanistan” directly. The treaty directs an ‘Intra-Afghan Peace' talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, although the Afghan government was sidelined from all the rounds of negotiations between USA and Taliban.

This treaty was primarily signed to end violent hostilities between the American government and the Taliban that have been fighting one another ever since the US invaded Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The pretext used for the invasion was that Taliban provided a safe haven to Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda.

With regime change in the US, the future of the peace deal also hangs in balance. While the responsibility of the enforcement of the treaty was on Donald Trump's shoulders, it is now up to President-elect Joe Biden as to how to deal with the Doha Agreement. In an interview to CBS News – Face the Nation – earlier this year, Biden said that he's against a complete withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. According to him, there must remain a “small American footprint” to counter the enemies of the US – ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Biden justifies his argument by adding that this small American presence, which may be “several thousand” personnel, will make sure that Al-Qaeda or ISIS aren't harboured in Afghanistan and pose a threat to the US.

Through various interviews, we can assume that while Biden has no interest in sending troops to every place on planet earth where the rights of women and children is allegedly at stake, his take on Afghanistan is, however, more nuanced.

Earlier this week, a Taliban spokesperson asserted that ‘Biden must consider the Doha agreement'. The question whether Biden will leave some American troops behind will be pivotal in determining the future of the Doha Agreement.

Madiha Afzal from Brookings writes how a “third option” could be considered where some thousands of US troops could stay in Afghanistan until an Intra-Afghan peace deal is achieved. This would eliminate Biden's option of American troops being stationed in Afghanistan forever.

Even if we were to consider that the US troops remain until May 2021, which, according to the deal completes the fourteen months period given to the US to withdraw all its troops, what is the possibility of Taliban and the Afghan government of reaching a peace deal? Both the Afghan government and the Taliban are engaging into hostilities every day, without any hope of a ceasefire. This situation leads to a distrust among the parties to conflict. The reason why the Afghan peace process is failing because the ‘actual' parties to the conflict weren't a part of the initial negotiations. The deal was just in the interest of the US and not the people of Afghanistan.

Although there hasn't been any official presidential declaration by Biden on the Doha Agreement, it is possible that the US may never fully withdraw from Afghanistan and the deal fails culminating into the collapse of the Intra-Afghan peace talks.

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